Australia’s Ambassador to South Korea, William Paterson, recently visited North Korea on a four day trip between June 20 and June 24, according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
The visit, according to representatives from the Australian Embassy in Seoul, was to meet with officials and to monitor the implementation of Australia’s humanitarian aid contribution to the World Food Programme (WFP).
“Officials informed the Australian side of the DPRK government’s principled stand on bolstering up bilateral friendly ties in politics, economy, culture and other fields—whatever the situation—under the ideal of independence, peace and friendship,” KCNA reported on Monday.
KCNA specifically identified Choe Hui Chol, director general of the Asian and Oceanian Bureau and Ma Tong Hui, chief of the Disarmament and Peace Institute, as being present while mentioning that others were also in attendance.
KCNA also reported that discussions were held on the nuclear issue, inter-Korean relations and that candid views were expressed by the Australian delegation.
“During his 20 to 24 June visit to the DPRK, Ambassador Paterson met with government officials, where he strongly condemned the DPRK’s 6 January nuclear test, 7 February ballistic rocket launch and the continued testing of other missile technology in contravention of UN Security Council resolutions, including resolution 2270,” the Australian Embassy in Seoul told NK News on Wednesday.
“Ambassador Paterson also raised Australia’s grave concerns with ongoing human rights violations in the DPRK,” the Embassy added.
Australia was one of the first western countries to establish diplomatic ties with North Korea and once operated an Embassy in Pyongyang in 1975, although it closed down later that year. North Korea had recently operated an Embassy in the Australian capital of Canberra between 2002 and 2008, however it was closed down due to financial difficulties.
North Korea had approached the Australian government in an effort to revive a potential physical presence in the country in 2013, however following developments on the peninsula at the time, including North Korea’s third underground nuclear test, such a proposal was blocked.
“We still adhere to the view that there is value in having a North Korean diplomatic presence here,” Australia’s former Foreign Minister, Bob Carr, said at the time despite the rejection.
Ambassador Paterson also travelled outside of Pyongyang in order to fulfil inspections of Australia’s humanitarian aid application, which included a gravity-fed drinking water supply project, located in Tongnim County town, North Phyongan and which is supported via through the United Nations Children’s Fund.
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Featured Image: Canberra by smjbk on 2013-07-01 11:42:11